You’ve probably heard things from motivational “gurus” or snazzy Instagram quotes saying “FEAR = face everything and rise” and “fear is temporary” and “everything you want is on the other side of fear” and “your largest fear carries your greatest growth”. This is all, frankly, bullshit.
Okay, okay, there may be some validity to these things. But, fear is not talked about realistically enough. I’ve noticed this especially in the realm of entrepreneurship. People focus a lot on the passion, the drive, the “grind”, the work, the flow, the lifestyle, etc. But people often fail to acknowledge the fear that comes with putting yourself out there.
I’ve personally experienced this. As someone who has many introvert tendencies, it can often be hard for me to really put myself in front of others and claim what I know to be true. Self-marketing is essential as an entrepreneur, but I can’t deny that sometimes there are moments of questioning: Who am I to be doing this? Who says anyone will listen to what I have to say? What evidence is there that proves this will be successful? Who’s to say I won’t fail? The list of doubts goes on, and on, and on…
The inner self-critic likes to be very vocal, especially in times when you’re expanding outwards from your comfort zone. I learned a few years ago from one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Farnoosh Brock, this process of what I call “flipping the inner script”. You take the doubt that the self-critic has given you, and you affirm the opposite.
There’s quite a bit of controversy over the validity of positive affirmations as happy psychology mumbo jumbo, but I’ve found it to be pretty enlightening. Let’s go through an example of how you would use this process. For instance, I might think “No one will listen to me”. Then, I affirm the opposite: “people are eager and willing to listen to the wisdom I have to share”. But, the inner critic often likes to fight back further: “what wisdom? You aren’t any smarter than the average person” – so you continue the process: “I have valuable life experience to share with others and have gained the wisdom and insight to improve people’s lives”. This process can go on for a long time. Writing it out like that makes it seem so harsh, and you may not think that you tell yourself things like that, but with some mindfulness, you may be surprised to learn how much of a bully you can be to yourself.
Tying this back into fear – with every fear comes an underlying self-doubt perpetuated by the inner critic. You can flip this script by affirming the opposite. This will provide valuable insight into what you’re telling yourself and preconceived notions you may have about yourself, and this discovery is the first step toward working to fix them, which will propel you forward.
But, affirmations don’t just magically make what you’re affirming to be true or convincing. In my personal experience, they’ve helped me to discover and do necessary work, but not magically fix anything.
Fear is inevitable. And when you experience it, it sucks. The best advice I can give you is to not let the fear stop you from seizing opportunities and doing what you need to do to move forward.
For all my students out there, this fear can apply to school. Have you ever thought “I’m going to fail this test”? That’s the inner critic speaking. Try flipping the script: “I’m prepared and going to do well on this test”. Now, telling yourself that right before the test will be beneficial, because you’re as prepared as you’re going to be, and freaking out about it won’t do much to help you, but calming down can help clear your mind. This same thing doesn’t apply as well when it’s two days before the test – that little bit of fear can often propagate taking action and studying some more.
To be honest, fear sucks, but it’s inevitable. Knowing tools such as flipping the script can provide insight and help prevent anxiety attacks about it, but there’s nothing you can do to never be afraid. Truth be told, if you don’t feel any fear, you’re stuck inside your comfort zone, and if there’s anywhere you don’t want to be, it’s there.
So, keep being scared and deal with that fear!